SEO Expectations vs SEO Realities

“I want to be first on Google.”

We hear that phrase quite often around here. And it’s certainly a good goal to have – first place in the organic search results often translates into extra traffic, extra leads and extra customers. It’s good for business.

However, it often seems as though the common understanding of SEO is that once a company has decided to be number 1 and dedicates some budget towards that goal, it should be achieved within a week or two. Piece of cake, right?

Well, the fact of the matter is that there are often a number of other companies that want to be #1 as well. And they might be trying just as hard as you, or maybe even harder, to earn and hold that spot.

For this reason, successful SEO requires a precise plan and regular attention.

Putting a concentrated effort into SEO definitely does have an impact. Interpreting the analytics, shoring up weaknesses and developing new content is fundamental to any successful SEO campaign, and that requires resources.

But there are some important differences between ordering the #1 combo at your local hamburger place and climbing to the top of the Google rankings.

What search you want to rank first for?

Solving SEO problems

SEO isn’t quite as complicated as this … but there does need to be a coherent plan in the background.

To start with, we need to figure out what “first place” actually means.

When someone says “I want to be first on Google”, my response is, “Awesome! For what search phrase?”

It isn’t hard to rank first for a phrase that nobody is looking for. I can pretty much guarantee that I could rank first for “Purple Electric Koala Trainer Blanket” in a very short time. But that doesn’t mean that traffic is going to start pouring onto my website.

This is why Keyword Research is an important part of any SEO campaign. Keyword research is the process of discovering how people search online for your industry. The important part here is that it is based on real data that comes from Google’s Keyword Planner. We sort our search terms according to the number of searches they receive every month on average.

Armed with this data, you know which search phrases will result in visitors who are legitimately interested in your product or service.

It’s not so easy to dominate a broad keyword. For example, if I am working with a car company, I might want to rank first for “car”. But that term is so vague: someone searching that term could be trying to fix their car, or maybe they are looking for a car rental. I even get a Wikipedia article explaining what a car is.

On the other hand, ranking first for a term like “best car to buy” is more likely to bring in quality visitors who are looking to make a purchase.

Often there will be some long tail keywords that attract a small but valuable amount of traffic. Targeting quality content towards these keywords is a good way to start ranking quickly and bringing in some visitors who are interested in your niche.

Who is your competition?

Let me explain this aspect of SEO with this bold claim: Under the right circumstances, I could be the fastest runner in the world in the 100 metre dash.

Granted, “the right circumstances” means that you would need to remove everyone else from the track so that I was the only runner.

Whether you like it or not, the strength of your competitors will play a big role in determining how much work is required to launch your website into first place. If you’re racing against Usain Bolt then, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

If you’re in a very specific niche, you’re going to get traction a lot quicker because you’re going to be the only one fighting to rank for your keywords.

Putting your strategy into place

Once you understand the keywords and competition in your online space, you can craft an effective SEO strategy.

It’s possible that you will be able to find some soft spots in the competition where you can make some quick wins.

It’s also possible that you will need to play a lot of catchup in order to compete with the top ranking companies for the valuable keywords.

A typical SEO campaign will involve a mixture of on-page and off-page SEO efforts. This often includes work to improve title tags and meta descriptions, then to develop content and create some valuable backlinks.

If you feel that your website could be ranking better in Google, contact RC Design and we’ll take a look at your website. Then, with a firm plan in place, we can begin to crush the competition!